An endless (?) struggle for Unity

David Mitchell’s critically acclaimed novel “Cloud Atlas” (2004) as well as its 2012 adaptation for screen by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer is mainly concerned with human nature itself. The plot revolves around various incarnations of a main character in different lifetimes, spanning from the 18th century up into a postapocalyptic future. The book and the movie brilliantly unite various forms of genre fiction: A slave trader’s travel diary, an anthology of love letters, comedy, crime, dystopian science fiction and finally a postapocalyptic tale.

This unification of styles is in stark contrast to the theme of the book which essentially is a neverending struggle for unity in the face of division along the lines of social standing, race, class and other perceived differences between humans.



Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 2004.

The Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer (directors). Cloud Atlas. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2012.


Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "An endless (?) struggle for Unity"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Eva Krarup
Eva Krarup

Interesting that you mention the form and the different genres in relation to the theme. Does the unification of these different styles at a formal level influence the final message when it comes to theme of division and the struggle for unity?

Johannes Poulsen
Johannes Poulsen

How do you think the way the same actors play a series of roles influence the way the film frames its ideas about what divides and unites humanity? The answer might be more or less the same as what you would reply to Eva here in the comments, but are the genres and the use of actors connected to the same theme or message?